A Retired Introvert and his Family – Our Covid Story

By Dallas Hinton

BC (Before Covid), the three of us lived what seemed like normal lives – to us, anyway. We have a few good friends, see the occasional movie, go out to dinner once a week or so. We’ve never been much for parties, and like most introverts, find that more than 3-4 people is too much to handle for more than a couple of hours.

Now, during the pandemic, other families throughout the country are getting a glimpse into our way of life.

We were both band and English teachers and seemed able to cope with the class sizes, particularly if we were making music. Once we retired, we drew into our shell and now spend most of our time with only one another. BC, we enjoyed making music with a weekly concert band and our daughter was involved in both the band and a weekly book club. We were involved with organizations that are close to our heart and are quite content in our lives.

Our daughter was born late in our lives and has Down Syndrome. Over the years she has become more introverted and more reluctant to be with large groups for long. She also has delayed sleep phase syndrome which has become much more extreme in the last 2-4 years. Her unusual schedule has had a significant impact on our lifestyle.

About two years ago our daughter moved into a rented apartment with a 24-hour aide – she’s there four nights a week and with us for three. While she’s with us, all we can do is sleep, eat, and watch a film or hockey game. Her sleep schedule is so messed up that we sleep in shifts during this time. When she’s with her aide in the apartment, she’s seldom up much before 7PM and doesn’t go to sleep until past noon. As a result, she and her aide seldom get out and now that we’re dealing with the pandemic, they get out even less.

Even now, as the physical distancing guidelines are becoming more relaxed here in B.C., none of us are going to restaurants or movies at all. We are also shopping for groceries mainly by pickup or delivery, and ordering other items online. Our daughter is very susceptible due to her Down Syndrome and other medical issues, and because we’re in our mid-70’s we’re being very cautious. Her aide is also very cautious in her personal life and we fully agree with that.

We are carrying on with our lives, and interestingly enough, now see that we have some insider knowledge that is helpful for others as they are getting used to living a more solitary life.

Our daughter has been a PLAN Lifetime member for some 17 years now, and has a microboard and a PLAN network. Since her network can no longer meet in person, we started doing a “drop in if you like” zoom meeting once a week. Attendance is open to anyone she knows, and generally hosts anywhere from three to 12 of her network and friends. She seems very comfortable meeting people this way, and is quite happy just to listen to what others are chatting about. She’s willing to answer when asked a question, but that’s no different from in-person meetings.

We recently held our microboard AGM via Zoom and that worked very well.

I belong to several organizations that also meet via Zoom. Frankly, as an introvert, I’m finding Zoom meetings quite liberating. I can mute my microphone and mumble to myself, I can ignore the group if I feel pressured, and I have the creature comforts of home. As an added bonus, I don’t spend time travelling!

All-in-all, our lives haven’t changed all that much – apart from not having band rehearsals we’re quite content to hide in our cave, keep the hours we want (we’re night owls), and avoid the (to us) forced gaiety of large groups.